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Foreword & Acknowledgment
Synopsis of Subjects on Pakistan

Economic Survey
Statistical Survey
The Constitution
The Government
Political Parties
The Legal System
The Press
Trade and Industry
Learned Societies
Research Institutes
Universities & Colleges


The Constitution, 1956

The following constitutional survey appeared in The British Commonwealth 1956 published by Europa Publications Limited, London (1956). (For a more detailed tour of the Constitutional development in Pakistan and to access primary sources, see "Constitution Avenue" in our Archives).

See the Synopsis of Subjects on the left for other items on Pakistan from this source.

The Constitution

The State of Pakistan was established on August 14th, 1947, under the provisions of the Indian Independence Act, 1947, as the result of an agreement between the British Government and the two main Indian political parties, the Indian National Congress and the All-India Muslim League. By this agreement India was divided and the predominantly Muslim areas were incorporated into the State of Pakistan.

Pakistan consists of two parts. East and West Pakistan, which are separated by over 1,000 miles. West Pakistan composed of Sind, West Punjab, North-West Frontier Province and Baluchistan and other smaller States which ceded to Pakistan at the time of the partition. East Pakistan includes Sylhet, a district of the province of Assam in pre-partition India. Karachi is the capital of Pakistan.

In November 1954 the Government of Pakistan decided to integrate the existing Provinces and Princely States in West Pakistan into a single administrative unit, and to make the country a Federation of two units: West Pakistan and East Pakistan. This decision was approved by the provincial Governors, Chief Ministers, Rulers and States December 1954, and the legislation was passed on December 30th, 1955. Since 1947 Pakistan has enjoyed the status of an independent Dominion, but in January 1955 the Pakistan Government declared that Pakistan should be a sovereign independent Republic. The Government also affirmed Pakistan's decision to continue her full membership of the Commonwealth of Nations and her acceptance of the Queen as a symbol of the free association of its members. In March 1956 Pakistan became an Islamic Republic within the British Commonwealth.

Apart from its work in preparing a Constitution for Pakistan, the Constituent Assembly is also functioning as a Parliament or Federal Legislative Assembly until such time as the final Constitution is formulated and adopted.

The head of the State is (since March 1956) the President (formerly the Governor-General). The Government is carried on by a Cabinet, which is collectively responsible to the Constituent Assembly through the Prime Minister. The latter is appointed by the President, while other ministers are appointed on the advice of the Prime Minister. The President is presumed to act on the advice of his ministers. Any Ordinance promulgated by the President is subject to repeal by the Constituent Assembly.
Both Urdu and Bengali have been declared State languages, but English will continue as a State language for twenty years.

Until such time as the new Constitution is promulgated, the Indian Independence Act of 1947, and the Government of India Act of 1935 as adapted for Pakistan, together form the working Constitution of Pakistan.

The task of drawing up the Pakistan Constitution was begun by the old Constituent Assembly in 1947, Committee Reports being submitted in 1952 and 1953. A draft constitution was adopted by the Constituent Assembly on February 29, 1956.

Source: The British Commonwealth 1956
With a Foreword by the Earl of Swinton P.C., G.B.E., C.H., M.C. Europa Publications Limited, London (1956)

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